Hilka Birns/WINDHOEK

New Namibian airline QuickJet Aviation has confirmed it is negotiating with South Africa's Comair to launch a joint operation between Namibian capital Windhoek and South Africa on 1 November, using a British Aerospace 146.

QuickJet's chief executive Frank Aldridge, formerly the commercial manager at Air Namibia, says negotiations are "in the final stages", although his counterpart at Comair, Piet van Hoven plays-down the talks, saying his airline, the British Airway franchise operator in South Africa, is approached by start-ups "all the time". Insiders, however, say a deal is being structured which will see QuickJet flying in BA colours twice daily to Johannesburg and once daily to Cape Town from Windhoek.

Despite a competitive market, QuickJet is banking on success by offering a business and leisure service by flying directly from Eros, Windhoek's city airport, rather than Windhoek International Airport, 35km (22 miles) outside the capital.

Officials say QuickJet's start-up could be delayed until early next year depending on the readiness of a BAe 146-100 regional jet to be leased from Air Botswana. Namibian government renovations of Eros, including a runway extension and the upgrading of its terminal building, are also not expected to be ready in time to meet the November deadline.

Once the aircraft has been delivered, QuickJet still has to obtain an operator's certificate. It was granted a licence on 29 April from Namibia's Transportation Commission, which this year overruled Air Namibia's objection to the new service. Air Namibia is a partner with SA Airlink in the soon to be launched Windhoek-based regional Kalahari Express.

Source: Flight International